Archive for February, 2016

Bālāji, the Lord of Tirupati : meaning of the name

Consider two words: बालाजी and रामाजी.
जी is honorific. Also, बाला and रामा both are in vocative.

Both बाल and राम, fundamentally mean: “male”
So बालाजी (as well as रामाजी) means:
(with a capital h)

Of course that would be Lord Vishnu here.
The actual accents – how people down South here – pronounce बालाजी supports what I said.

The moral of the story:
a) Sanskrit lost accents.
b) Sanskrit lost varied use of vocative.
c) Tradition is therefore, as an authority, higher than a loukika bhAShA, and shouldn’t be doubted so easily.


रामा as a vocative is in universal use in प्राकृतम् (i.e. not only Hindi) throughout Northern India. And this is indeed naturalistic, evidenced by other uses (in a-ending nouns) such as यारा (vocative) for यार (male friend), and therefore is not borrowed.

regarding बाला,

Again, in the North we have:
बालमा (voc.) and बलमा (voc.) for बालम (male friend) and बलम (male friend).

balls : testicles, ball : round object, ballsy : courageous, bald : no hair on (round) scalp (thus exposed), bull, bell, etc.

Hindi: बल manly power, बाल hair growing on (round) scalp, बाला bangle (round), बाली earring (round), बेल a round fruit, बाली Sugreeva’s powerful brother, बैल, etc.

In fact, shaving head at Tirupati could be related to the word root.

जी following a vocative is easy to understand. But the deeper question is indeed of the original uses of vocative that modern Sanskrit has lost. We will come to this point later but for now, let us understand बाला as the vocative qualifying जि: the nominative to produce बालाजि:, or बालाजी: the nominative.

To summarise, I must emphasise again that बालाजी means “He” / पुंदेवता (not related to Bala-Krishna as speculated by some).
The historical questions are highly irrelevant, since the “He” could have been any male deity, theoretically. The exchange of deities, among different dhārmika orientations, in the long histories of temples is a commonly observed phenomenon all over India. There is more unity among dhārmika traditions than what is acknowledged superficially. The point is, the spiritual power remains the same. However, this has not stopped many trouble mongers from peddling unnecessarily, without proper context or acumen, in such matters.

The validation of the meaning “He” (पुंदेवता) comes in the existence of quite a few Hanumāna temples (in Rajasthan) that are also called as Balaji temples, and also at least one Sūrya temple in Madhyapradesha again called a Balaji temple.


बल (= वल) can be said to be the root word here. By applying different vowels and semivowels we get all other instances (including yavana words such as vale, valley, wall, ball, bull, etc etc).

One of Indra’s enemies is known as वल (also बल). वल, just like वृत्र, is a power of असत् that encompasses, encircles, and isolates realms. Since Vaidika words are self-referencing, and original, the purest meaning of वल is this: circle, or something circled. An immediate example: वलय.

The next purest instance I can think of is the vel of vel-murukan. This vel is mystically understood to be the piercer of the barrier (here, वल). From here we can see बल also getting its meaning: manly power, or even the male organ. So we have बैल etc.

In my view, therefore, in the North-West of India (or likely in Maharashtra itself) we had the word mutation of वल as वल and बल (e.g. in Punjabi: वल्ले-वल्ले and बल्ले-बल्ले) and there onwards it spread to IE worlds. However, before the mutation, the word had its origin in the South as वेल.

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